Cold Glass Destroyer (This Week’s Movies)

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Tomasz Kot, Joanna Kulig: Cold War (Palace Films, Lukasz Bak)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Cold War. “Along with the off-center black-and-white cinematography, Pawlikoski’s most effective tool here is the way music provides the pulse of the story.”

Glass. “I hope Shyamalan drops his grand ambitions to explain the Unified Theory of Everything and gets back to freaking us all out.”

Destroyer. “Switching the sex around doesn’t make it fresh.”

I contribute a Seasoned Ticket entry for the Scarecrow Video blog, this time looking back at M. Night Shyamalan’s second feature, Wide Awake. Read here.

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Movie Diary 1/15/2019

Glass (M. Night Shyamalan, 2019). The movie has a cool-creepy final act, where All Is Revealed – but man, it is a long way to get there. I think I like Shyamalan better when he’s working on his standalone ideas, not when he’s universe-building. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson look unengaged, to say the least, and James McAvoy recycles his Split turn. Impeccably made, as you expect with Shyamalan, but weirdly inert. (full review 1/18)

Movie Diary 1/14/2019

Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964). Still a delightful and weird movie, with Julie Andrews still splendid and Dick Van Dyke still murdering a Cockney accent.

Ladies Should Listen (Frank Tuttle, 1934) and Big Brown Eyes (Raoul Walsh, 1936). Working through a box set of early Cary Grant titles, proving that in this era and with this leading man, the studio system (Paramount!) could turn out some duds. Ladies is a very strained comedy, and the Walsh film, although it has scattered moments of wry dialogue and Walshian frankness, is thin and forced. Watchable cast, with Joan Bennett in good form, Lloyd Nolan, and a very lean Walter Pidgeon. The loony storyline has Grant as a detective, Bennett as a manicurist who becomes a reporter (the movie will twist your head around), and the strange touch of Grant throwing his voice, executed with a dubbed female voice. Oh, and the comic hijinks are punctuated with a gangster shooting a baby dead in a public park.

The Upside Divide (This Week’s Movies)

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Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart: The Upside (STX Films)

Links to my writing published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

The Upside. “A complete fantasy.”

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes. “Anytime you might be in danger of sympathizing with Ailes, the movie provides testimony from one of the women he pressured into having sex with him.”

And here’s my article on a handful of movie actors and actresses who departed the world in 2018 – a list not meant to be definitive, just a collection of people who left an impression on me.

Another Seasoned Ticket entry for the Scarecrow Video blog, this time an experiment in noir prosody, thanks to some old notes from teaching a Seattle University class on Film Noir. Dig it here.

Movie Diary 1/9/2019

The Upside (Neil Burger, 2019). Remake of Les Intouchables. Bryan Cranston is a wealthy quadriplegic man, Kevin Hart his ex-con personal attendant. Straight formula, yet there are a handful of scenes where the two actors get at something. Hart continues to be one of the most human of movie comedians, his offscreen gaffes notwithstanding. Nicole Kidman, who apparently does not want to stop working, is also in the cast.

Movie Diary 1/8/2019

Kiss and Make-up (Harlan Thompson, 1934). Cary Grant is a plastic surgeon and all-around re-shaper of the female form, stymied by marriage to a patient (Genevieve Tobin) overly devoted to his beauty regimen. Bad movie, with one terrifying nightmare sequence of the wife taking so long to get ready for an evening that Grant misses the tribute to his career achievements. Edward Everett Horton and Helen Mack are in there.

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955). One of the greatest, still.

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2016). I liked it the first time, I liked it better the second time; Gerwig’s most impressive skill here, beyond the little observations, is an absolutely confident sense of pacing – the film sprints along in scenes that are exactly as long as they need to be.

2018 Ten Best Movies

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Brady Jandreau: The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics)

Here’s my list for 2018. I didn’t have a single obvious, slap-in-the-face #1 for the year, so almost any of the top half-dozen here could have been on top.

  1. The Rider (Chloe Zhao)
  2. Support the Girls (Andrew Bujalski)
  3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel and Ethan Coen)
  4. Lean on Pete (Andrew Haigh)
  5. First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  6. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  7. Hereditary (Ari Aster)
  8. Zama (Lucrecia Martel)
  9. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)/Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)
  10. First Man (Damien Chazelle)

Here’s a link to the full end-of-year article from the Herald, including a Bottom Ten. Here’s the link from the Seattle Weekly, which counts backwards rather than down.

I voted in the National Society of Film Critics awards, and the group ended up going for The Rider as Best Picture, a not-untypical offbeat choice for the NSFC. Here’s their list on their website, plus a link to the list at Variety.